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I’m stressed over the holidays.

I need some tips on how to manage the holidays. They always get the best of me. 

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Dear Is This Normal,

The holidays are always so stressful for me. I have young kids running around, constantly running from family members house to another family members house and my schedule with my kids always gets so MESSED UP.  I need some tips on how to manage the holidays. They always get the best of me.

Signed,
Stressed Holiday Mama

Dear Stressed Mama,

We know it’s not easy this time of year, but don’t forget that it truly CAN be one of the best times of year for you, too. If we can find ways to help get your ducks in a row during this very validly stressful time, you may just be able to stop and enjoy the moments along the way. A few of them, anyway.

No matter what, whether you’re traveling to see family or hosting the celebration at home, there will be changes in your toddler’s daily routine this time of year – so let’s plan to minimize the stress where we can so you can focus on the fun.

Set your perfectionist cap to the side:

Don’t let the stereotypical holiday Instagram picture of perfection set an unrealistic bar for you! Something is likely not going to go right — whether it’s a cancelled flight, the gift you wanted to buy your kid being out of stock everywhere, or the cat pulling down your Christmas tree (yes, this actually happens). Give yourself some grace in those moments (or have some fun with it like Lauren Conrad), whatever they may be and whenever they may happen.

Plan early:

One of the most important things you can do is map out your approach to the holidays in advance. Make a list, check it twice. Make it your spirit guide. This will give you the framework to decide which invites to accept and to figure which events or activities you want to plan arrangements for. It will also give you the chance to identify any gaps and, importantly, any commitments you want to LET GO OF because it’s just not worth it.

Make downtime part of your plans, too!

It can be easy to get swept away in the holiday frenzy and feel the need to fit every party and activity into your schedule. Before you jump right in, think about how much you and your family can handle: your mini is used to their structured routine and the constant change in environment is bound to take a toll. Give them (and yourself) moments of nothing in the line-up, whether that’s some quiet time to read, play alone with some of their favorite toys, or even to watch a short educational program on the TV. Either way, allow them (and you!) the chance to reset.

Don’t forget nap time and bedtime:

As parents, we often have to make compromises– but those should be deliberate and strategic instead of accidental! When the invites come in from friends and family, consider the time of day of the events as well. If the time conflicts with nap time or bedtime, it might be the sign those are invites you should choose to skip—at least for this year. If the event goes into the evening, plan to show up at the start and have a toddler-friendly departure time.

Establish your own traditions:

It can be easy for your plans to be overtaken by traditions set by other family members but what are the traditions just you and your immediate family share? If you have none, are there some you might want to start this year? It doesn’t have to be big, but it’s good to think about prioritizing something that’s just for you guys to enjoy. Maybe it’s watching holiday movies in PJs on Christmas Eve or driving around doing family car carol karaoke as you look at the lights in the neighborhood.

And, most importantly, take time to enjoy it all! The season goes so quickly and with each year, so many things change. So take it all in! And don’t forget to give yourself some ‘me’ time along the way.

Happy Holidays,

Is This Normal

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